How To File Nails Step By Step

How To File Nails Step By Step

Perfectly manicured nails always make your hands look gorgeous, but going to the salon to care for your nails can be expensive over time. You can file your nails at home to maintain your nail health. 

If you frequently wear acrylic or gel nails you should take a break between each set and file your nails at home yourself to allow the nails to breathe and be naked for a number of days.

This will also help to strengthen the nails. 

In this guide, we show you how to file your nails at home and how to achieve the perfect nail shape to suit your hand. So, say goodbye to unkempt and dirty nails and hello to elegant and strong-looking nails. 

How To File Your Nails

Filing your nails at home may seem intimidating but by gathering the necessary tools mentioned below and following this basic technique you will be able to file your nails perfectly every time.

What You Need

  • Nail Scissors
  • Nail File
  • Cuticle Stick
  • Cuticle Oil
  • Nail Oil
  • Bowl of lukewarm water
  • Towel


  1. Soak your hands in lukewarm water for 3 to 5 minutes. This helps to soften the nail making it easier to file. Pat your hands dry.
  2. If your nails are very long take a pair of nail scissors and cut the nails to your desired length.
  3. Once you have cut the nails next you will take your nail file to shape your nail and get rid of any roughness or breaking points.
  4. Push back your cuticles using a cuticle stick, this will make your nail bed look longer.
  5. Apply a hydrating nail oil to the nails and leave to soak.
  6. While the nail oil is soaking into the nails apply a cuticle oil and gently massage this into the cuticles.
  7. Apply a hand cream as the final step to keep your hands looking as healthy as your freshly filed nails.

Filing your nails is simple to do but there are some things that you should avoid, find out more below.

Choose a good nail file, such as an emery board as often metal and glass nail files can weaken the nails.

Do not roughly saw at your nails when filing, slowly file your nails in one direction. 

It may be useful to imagine your nails are in two sections and file the left first and then the right.

This will allow you to focus on getting a nice shape and makes it easier to move the file in one direction when you are filing a smaller area

File your nails over a dark surface so that you can see the nail shape better.

How To Achieve Different Nail Shapes

How To File Nails Step By Step

There are 6 main nail shapes that most people will wear. Certain styles are easier to manage than others and some nail shapes are better suited to different fingers.

To find the perfect nail shape for you and to find out how to achieve it take a look at the below.

Related: How to thin nail polish

Round Shaped Nails

To achieve a rounded nail shape simply file your nails into a square shape and then follow the natural curve of your fingers.

This shape is easy to maintain and is the perfect way of shaping nails that may not grow very long.

Oval Shaped Nails

Oval-shaped nails were the classic shape in the 1900s and were a great way to achieve elegant-looking hands as they add length to your fingers. 

Simply file your nails into an egg-like shape, curving the edges downward slimmer than the natural curve of the finger.

This nail shape is fantastic for anyone with shorter fingers as it makes fingers look longer.

Square Shaped Nails

Square-shaped nails continue to become more and more popular as it is the best nail shape to prevent breakage or snags from happening.

To achieve this shape you should trim your nails and then use a nail file to shape your nails so that they are straight. 

Make sure that you file the edges to avoid any roughness. This nail shape is most suited to those who have long fingers or who may have wide nail beds.

Squoval Shaped Nails

This style is a variation of square shaped nails. It is a softer look but still very easy to manage. The slightly rounded edges add a touch of old school elegance to a modern nail shape. 

To achieve this look simply file your nails into an oval shape and then flatten the tip to give a square look.

Squoval shaped nails look gorgeous on any length of finger or type of nails, long and short. 

Almond Shaped Nails

Almond-shaped nails are a more dramatic oval shape. 

To achieve this shape you will need to find the center of the tip of your nail, next curve off the edges to the left and right of this point. Soften the edges to avoid breakages. 

If you have short fingers this nail shape will look gorgeous on your hands.

Stiletto Shaped Nails

Stiletto-shaped nails are the hardest to maintain and also the most prone to breakages. This shape is often seen on celebrities, or for special occasions people may opt for this nail shape. 

To achieve this look you will follow a similar technique to how you would achieve an almond shaped nail. 

Find the center point of the tip of your nail and file your nails diagonally to the left and right to achieve a dramatic and sharp finish.

Most people who wear this shaped nail get acrylic or gel nails to prevent the nail from breaking or ripping easily.  

Stiletto shaped nails can look great on anyone, adding drama to your hands.

Final Thoughts

Looking after your nails and knowing how to care for them properly is a great way to maintain hand and nail health as well as making your hands look more elegant and younger. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different nail shapes to help find the perfect one for you!